The New York Times reports that President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, speaking to a tribal assembly of Pakistani and Afghan poobahs in Kabul, admits that support from the Pakistani tribal areas and Northwest Frontier Province for rebels in Afghanistan has, as the Times so delicately puts it, "caused problems" for Afghanistan. More precisely, the President-General, belaboring the hell out of the obvious, said:
There is no doubt Afghan militants are supported from Pakistan soil. The problem that you have in your region is because support is provided from our side.
The Times reports that the President of Kabul (er, excuse me, Afghanistan), Hamid Karzai, "nodded in agreement." Well at least he can do something.
So why is Musharraf saying this ? There's no stopping such support, absent (1) a major Pakistani Army operation to clear out the tribal areas, in cooperation with the US -- which isn't going to happen; or, (2) an operation by the US alone to clear out the Pakistani tribal areas -- which isn't even practical, and is not going to happen.
The President-General probably has the toughest day-to-day political existence on the planet. He is sandwiched between, oh, lets see: an army and part of his population that to varying degrees is rather pro-Taliban; a powerful, comparatively rich and unfriendly neighbor that at bottom resents the hell out of the very existence of Pakistan -- seeing them as wayward secessionists (think the US if the Confederates had gotten away); a bureaucracy, judiciary and ruling class that hates the military regime Musharraf installed; mullahs and a religious class that is very pro-Taliban and pro Osama; and, finally, one of Pakistan's biggest enablers, bankrollers and arms warehouses -- that wants Musharaf to launch a crackdown that will upset his own population.
Gee, have I left anybody out ? Probably.
Maybe Musharraf's wife likes him, but nobody else does. I hope the pistol in his bedside drawer is kept loaded.
So here we are back at my question: why is Musharraf saying this to these people ? He cannot really do anything, and all the players know it. Why admit it ? Perhaps the agents of the aforementioned enabler, bankroller and arms warehouse are leaning on him for some results. Musharaf has to be careful, lest the big enabler get together with the unfriendly neighbor and between them they put an end to Pakistan. But he has to dodge all the other traps at the same time.
It sounds like the Pakistanis are under pressure, again, from the Americans to give them something. Maybe words are all Mr. Musharraf has ? So what's next ? What do you bet the Pakistani police and intelligence services, in the very near future, find another al Qaeda big wig ?